Menu

It's science: 'Girls weekends' boost mental health

You might need a momcation, mama.

It's science: 'Girls weekends' boost mental health

For some moms, the perfect vacation is one where they can explore and engage with their little ones, while other mothers have more of a grownup girls trip in mind.

It's okay if you want to take a weekend away with your BFFs, mama. It doesn't mean anything about your commitment to motherhood or your partner. Science suggests that humans need connections outside of our romantic partners and mother-child bonds, and that when we don't connect with our friends, our health suffers.

Basically, spending time with your friends away from your family is good for you, and fills you up in a way other relationships can't. So-called "momcations" aren't for everyone, but planning a little getaway without the kids works for some mamas.

As a mom of three boys (all under four) Rachel Williams Shaw has taken three trips with friends since becoming a mom. She told Good Morning America she felt she came back rested and ready to get back into her family's daily routine.

"I think time away is very important to remember who you were before becoming a mom. I was a very adventurous, independent person before having my kids and I feel I need that kind of time to remind me that I'm still me, just with three babies," she explained.

Other mothers told GMA they don't feel the need to travel without their kids.

"I hate the thought of exploring something new without sharing it with them," said Chasity Walters, who has a 20-year-old and a 5-week-old. I want them to have as many experiences as possible. Along the same lines, everything in my life is better with them."

Preventing parental burnout

Some moms do need a break, though, and no one should be shamed for taking a trip and leaving the kids at home with their other parent, a grandparent or a babysitter. It may be what that parent needs to prevent parental burnout.

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found 12.9% of mothers experience "high burnout" and another study, this one published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, suggested "parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation."

Basically, burning out at home can be even more devastating than burning out at the office, so parents should do whatever they need to to prevent it.

Mini-momcations

For a lot of mothers booking a solo trip or flying away to somewhere sunny with a couple of friends is just not an option. Vacations are among the first things that get cut when budgets get tight, and millennial parents have some of the tightest budgets around. And for single moms, childcare can be a barrier in planning a child-less vacay.

But we don't have to book a plane ticket to take a break. Taking mini-momcations—going to the movies, or grabbing dinner with your friends (without the kids)—can also help us get out of mom mode for a little while.

If you know you wouldn't enjoy vacationing without your kids (it's not for everybody) getting some quality me-time in can be just as refreshing, without having to miss your family.

You don't have to give up family vacations

Whether you're taking mini-momcations or planning a week of solo travel, choosing to savor that experience for yourself doesn't mean you can't also experience vacationing (or even just day tripping to a local attraction) with your children. Of course having experiences together is important, too.

According to a study out of the University of Toronto, family vacations strengthen our emotional connections, and a British survey found almost half of adults surveyed stated their most favorite childhood memory is one of a family vacation.

Momcations are good, but coming home is even better

Taking a momcation can help mom reset, but also reset how the family sees her. "Her spouse and children may have a better sense of how much she does and accomplishes on a daily basis. It is critical for children to see that balance modeled for them and to carry that into their own child-rearing in future years. Ultimately, this may help children garner even more respect for their mothers," psychologist Dr. Nava R. Silton told Good Morning America.

When writer and mother Jennifer Batchelor flew to Hawaii without her kids to spend time with a friend, she "reveled in [her] freedom and soaked up every last selfish second of it," but when she got home and saw the way her son and daughter lit up when they saw her, her momcation became even better. "Yes, it was nice to get away. But it's even nicer coming home," she wrote.

[A version of this post was published on September 10, 2018. It has been updated.]

You might also like:

Momcations are good, but coming home is even better

Taking a momcation can help mom reset, but also reset how the family sees her. "Her spouse and children may have a better sense of how much she does and accomplishes on a daily basis. It is critical for children to see that balance modeled for them and to carry that into their own child-rearing in future years. Ultimately, this may help children garner even more respect for their mothers," psychologist Dr. Nava R. Silton told Good Morning America.

When writer and mother Jennifer Batchelor flew to Hawaii without her kids to spend time with a friend, she "reveled in [her] freedom and soaked up every last selfish second of it," but when she got home and saw the way her son and daughter lit up when they saw her, her momcation became even better. "Yes, it was nice to get away. But it's even nicer coming home," she wrote.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

Gracious Gobbler

I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

Keep reading Show less
Shop

100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play